Boeing’s docked Starliner capsule faces another crucial test
Astronauts on the International Space Station are preparing the CST-100 Starliner for its return home, currently scheduled for Wednesday. The landmark mission is coming to an end quickly, as Boeing has completed several important tests of its new spacecraft when docked at the orbital outpost. This is a nail-biter mission for Boeing, after two failed attempts to take Starliner to ISS.
By the time they leave the ISS on Wednesday afternoon, the Starliner capsule will have spent five days attached to the station. At 8:28 pm, the spacecraft visited the ISS. ET launched into space on Friday, May 20, the day before. Problems with the propulsion system that occurred during Starliner’s orbital burn do not appear to have affected the expedition known as the Boeing Orbital Flight Test 2 or OFT-2.
Successful docking included a non-built Starliner attached to a new Boeing-built docking port attached to the ISS Harmony module. After docking, the capsule recharged the battery using a solar array mounted in the service module, the Boeing press release said.
Ted Colbert, CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in the release that the successful docking of Starliner is another important step in the training to send astronauts into orbit safely and reliably. The goal is to get Starliner approved for human use by giving NASA another tool to take its astronauts into space (another SpaceX crew dragon).
The astronauts with the Expedition 67 crew opened the Starliner’s hatch on Saturday morning, allowing them to enter. Rosie the Rocketier was still stuck in her seat – a test mannequin tracking the physical conditions associated with human spaceflight. After inspecting the inside of the capsule, NASA flight engineers Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines began the process of unloading the Starliner, which brought 500 pounds of cargo to the ISS.
Boeing and NASA have also met a number of docked flight test objectives, including shared ventilation between Starliner and space stations, testing of various audio checkouts (including mission control in Florida), confirming docked telemetry routes and file transfers, and recharging Starliner batteries. Power. The crew still needs to load 600 pounds of cargo into the Starliner, pre-unlock system activation and checkout, and close the Starliner hatch, among other things.
The spacecraft is expected to unload with the ISS at 2:36 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 25th. The Starliner will then re-enter the atmosphere and land by parachute near White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Gizmodo will provide live coverage of the event tomorrow, so stay tuned.